RFP Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Request for Proposals

Preparation of an Administrative History

at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

April 2019

The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking the services of a qualified historian through a cooperative agreement with the Organization of American Historians (OAH) to prepare an Administrative History of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site (MAWA). The selected historian will be the Principle Investigator (PI) for the project.

Interested historians should submit a complete proposal (specified below) in response to this RFP to the OAH and NPS no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, May 24, 2019.

Project Background

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site (MAWA) in Richmond, Virginia, commemorates the life of Maggie Lena Walker (1863-1934), a progressive and talented African American woman born in the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War and who grew to national prominence during the Jim Crow era as a civil rights activist, educator, newspaper editor, fraternal leader, and the nation’s first African American female bank president.

Established in 1978 and co-managed by Richmond National Battlefield Park, MAWA is the country’s first national park devoted to the story of an African American woman. The site includes Walker’s fully restored and furnished residence which, as a house museum, serves as the primary visitor resource and the focus of public interpretation. In addition to Walker’s home, MAWA includes five adjacent historic buildings that provide a visitor center, auditorium, bookstore, exhibits, classroom, offices, and archival storage & research room. Collectively, the park service manages and administers roughly one-quarter of a city block within the heart of Jackson Ward National Historic Landmark District, once one of the most prosperous African American communities in the United States. Visitor opportunities at the park include a 20-minute orientation film and daily ranger-led guided tours of the house and exhibits. Special park events include the Black History Month film series, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day guest speakers, Maggie L. Walker Birthday Celebration, 2nd Street Festival, and small temporary exhibits in the park’s visitor center throughout the year. Visitors can also learn about Walker through two virtual exhibits including the Google Cultural Institute.

Like its namesake, the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site has served as a pioneer in the African American community both in Richmond and in the nation at large.

Project Goals

The purpose of this study is to document the establishment and management of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site (mid 1970s through the NPS Centennial in 2016) and to place it within the larger context of African American historic preservation inside the national park system. Special attention will be given to how MAWA fits within the larger context of African American heritage tourism and local, community development and historic preservation. This study will serve as an ongoing guide to park management about the history of park issues over time and how these have changed depending on the context of the time.

Scope of Work

The PI will produce a monograph length (80,000-100,000 word) document detailing the establishment and management of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. Topics and issues to address in this administrative history of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site (MAWA) include the following:

  1. The establishment of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site within the context of grassroots preservation efforts. By the second half of the 20th century, much of Maggie Walker’s physical legacy was threatened by neglect, urban renewal, and other development stressors. Local activists including leaders of Richmond’s African American academic and faith communities responded to these threats and formed the Maggie L. Walker Historical Foundation (MLWHF) with the goal of protecting Walker’s home, her bank, and her burial place. This study will examine the relationship between the MLWHF, the preservation of the Walker residence, and the greater struggle for urban preservation in late 20th century Richmond. What is the relationship between the success of establishing the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site and the ongoing efforts to protect Maggie Walker’s other significant sites?
  2. The establishment and management of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site within the context of other National Park Service African American historic sites. For more than half a century, the National Park Service primarily focused its conservation and interpretation on natural wonders, battlefields, and icons of white, male American history. With its establishment in 1978, MAWA became the country’s first national park site to preserve and interpret the story of an African American woman. How has this superlative status been upheld in the decades since the park’s establishment? 30 years later, is MAWA still an outlier or has it become an example of greater trends to protect and interpret minority stories? This study should examine the demographic shifts of NPS visitors and staff against national trends, addressing the question: does the inclusion of an NPS site like MAWA not just add black women’s history to the roster of NPS stories, but does the inclusion of such stories introduce black visitors and staff to the NPS fabric? How have visitor expectations and/or hiring practices shaped staff demographics?
  3. Cultural resource stewardship. For four decades after Maggie Walker’s death, Walker’s descendants owned and preserved Mrs. Walker’s home, furnishings, and family papers. Following the family’s transfer of these resources to the National Park Service in 1979, NPS preservation specialists began restoring the Walker home and in the subsequent decades, completed restoration of adjacent buildings that now comprise the entire MAWA site complex. In addition to the historic buildings, cultural stewardship has included the preservation of Maggie L. Walker’s impressive collection of archives and personal artifacts. The personal papers and business records maintained in MAWA’s archives offer an unparalleled glimpse into Walker’s influence as an impassioned civil rights icon. Since the 1980s, these papers have served as the bedrock of scholarship on Walker and continue to fuel books, articles, and documentaries – shaping the public’s understanding and appreciation of Walker’s contributions. This administrative history will examine the park’s stewardship strategies and their impact on improving, maintaining, and interpreting Walker’s legacy.
  4. Park growth over three and a half decades. When MAWA first opened to the public in 1985, the site consisted solely of the former residence at 110 ½ E. Leigh Street as a furnished house museum. Over the next two decades, the site complex expanded to include the adjacent residences at 112-118 E. Leigh Street and the mixed-use buildings at 600-602 N. 2nd Street. The addition of these buildings had a two-fold effect: they allowed the park to expand its offerings with auxiliary exhibits, a movie theater, offices, classrooms, and collections storage and with these needs met outside of the Walker residence, the house museum itself was able to achieve greater authenticity.
  5. MAWA as a catalyst of preservation within the greater Jackson Ward neighborhood. Jackson Ward National Historic Landmark District is one of the country’s largest NHLDs devoted to African American history and MAWA is situated within its boundaries, at the intersection of North 2nd and E. Leigh Streets – the historic nexus of “Black Wall Street” and “Quality Row.” MAWA also sits within the City or Richmond’s Jackson Ward Old and Historic District. As an urban neighborhood within the core of downtown Richmond, Jackson Ward and its buildings have faced the full range of preservation victories and defeats from infill to adaptive reuse, and from total demolition to full scale restoration. This study will examine the Park’s influence on the changing appearance of Jackson Ward in the late 20th and early 21st centuries with an emphasis on the Park’s residential neighbors, adjacent Exxon station & hotel, and the Richmond Convention Center. What role did MAWA play, either passively or actively, in the shifting landscape of Jackson Ward?
  6. Evolving interpretation, visitation challenges, and new possibilities. With an emphasis on urban history, civic engagement, and “new audiences,” the NPS’s Centennial initiatives (2011-2016) were all too fitting for an urban, minority history site like MAWA. Over the years, MAWA has evolved its interpretation attempting to rightfully elevate Walker’s importance from the local level to the national stage. MAWA has advanced its aims in the 21st century through creative interpretation, outreach, and digital media. The site has expanded its traditional interpretation to shape and inform the community with some of the very principles historically espoused by Maggie Walker herself with programs such as: Youth Leadership Institute (2006 ->); Maggie L. Walker 150th “We Cannot Stand Alone” (2014); and the Urban Archaeology Corps (2015 & 2016). As a digital pioneer, MAWA was twice selected by the NPS’s National Museum Management Program to launch web exhibits and virtual tours including a 2015 partnership with the Google Cultural Institute. MAWA has also shared its archival collections and staff-produced scholarship through social media platforms and the 2016 site-produced orientation film: Carry On: The Life & Legacy of Maggie Lena Walker. But despite this renewed national attention, expanding outreach, and ever-increasing relevance, visitation at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site has always been surprisingly underwhelming (an average of 10,000-12,000 annual visitors). Study will examine past and current challenges that the urban house museum faces and the attempts that park staff has undertaken to overcome these obstacles.

The study should be written for a broad popular audience as well as for NPS management. As detailed above, it should place the park’s story in the larger context of national trends and events within the NPS.

Research includes the investigation and analysis of published and documentary sources as well as interviews (up to approximately 20 hours) with knowledgeable persons—both NPS staff and others.

MAWA staff will provide the PI with access to relevant source material housed within their repositories.

Oral Histories and Image Collection

The researcher will conduct up to approximately 20 hours of interviews with individuals involved with the creation of the park, with current and former staff, and with members of descendant communities (when appropriate) in order to develop a full narrative. The NPS will assist the researcher in locating interviewees, and provide official release forms, which must be completed by each interviewee. A draft list of interviewees will be submitted with the chapter draft, and be approved by NPS. For each interview, the researcher will submit an audio file, signed release forms, and a transcript of the interview.

Oral histories are a vital component of this project. When the PI conducts any oral history interviews or collects copies of images from individuals and institutions as primary research for the study, official release forms must be used and, in the case of oral histories, interviews must be recorded in an archival-quality medium. The NPS will provide release forms for the interviews, transferring ownership and copyright of the material to the NPS. The original interviews and copies of the transcripts will be given to the NPS, to be added to the MAWA archives.

The PI will be responsible for obtaining permission to use any images or other material that is not in the public domain.

Deliverables and Outcomes

The PI will submit the following deliverables as part of completing this project. A suggested time table is included as a starting point for discussion; specific deadlines will be determined at the start of the project.

  • Start-up meeting with PI, park staff, NPS ATR, and OAH at MAWA, within 2 months of researcher selection
  • PI submits a detailed outline for the study that includes a working title, a general overview of the organization of the report and specific topics to be covered, projected length of the written manuscript, and a preliminary bibliography, within 3 months of start-up meeting. (NPS and OAH will review the outline and submit comments to the PI, within 30 days of outline submission.)
  • PI submits a draft of one chapter for the study and a list of oral history interviewees within within 5 months of receiving comments on the detailed outline. (NPS and OAH will review the draft chapter and submit comments to the PI within 30 days of submission.)
  • PI submits a first draft of the study, within 9 months of receiving comments on the draft chapter. (NPS and OAH will review the draft and submit comments to the PI, within 30 days of chapter submission.)
  • PI submits second draft of the Administrative History, including proposed images, drawings, maps, and other illustrations and their related permissions, as well as appendices, within 4 months of receiving comments on the rough draft. (This draft will be sent out for scholarly peer review; NPS and OAH will return comments, including peer review comments, within 2 months of full draft submission.)
  • PI submits final, copyedited Administrative History, which includes all the elements of the full draft plus a title page, table of contents, and executive summary, within 5 months of receiving comments on the full draft. PI will also submit permission to publish all images not in the public domain.
  • PI delivers a public presentation at park and delivers research materials no later than 1 month after submitting the final manuscript. The presentation will include an overview of the study findings; the principal investigator will join a facilitated discussion on the case study identified by the project team.
Proposal Submissions

For evaluation purposes, proposals should provide sufficient information as to assist OAH and the NPS in determining the most qualified historian for the project. Historians interested in bidding should submit a formal written proposal that includes the following elements in a single digital file:

  1. Contact information for the Principal Investigator.
  2. Project Narrative. Please explain how this project will be accomplished and the desired outcomes achieved. Indicate if work is to be subcontracted and/or student/intern labor used. This would also be the place to discuss any adjustments to the suggested time table presented in the “Deliverables and Outcomes” section of this RFP.
  3. Researcher Qualifications. Please include a narrative discussion of qualifications, relevant experience, and past projects of the individual(s) who will be involved in the research, including a designation of a principal investigator, if there will be more than one person on the research team. In addition to the narrative discussion, please include a curriculum vitae or résumé for all known members of the research team
  4. Project Budget. Indicate how much money is required to complete the work described, indicating how much will be spent for labor, travel, research supplies, printing etc. A budget template can be provided upon request.

Please Note: It is expected that the PI will complete this project with a budget between $50,000 and $53,250. Project Budgets should total within this dollar range.

Proposals will be evaluated for selection based on the project narrative; and the experience and qualifications of the historian(s).

All proposals must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, May 24th, 2019. They should be prepared simply and economically, providing a straightforward, concise description of the consultant’s qualifications and capabilities to satisfy the requirements of this RFP.

Please submit electronic proposals to:

Paul J. Zwirecki
Public History Manager
Organization of American Historians

Bethany Serafine
Agreements Technical Representative (ATR)
National Register Historian
Northeast Region - National Park Service

Please submit any inquiries or requests for budget templates to Paul J. Zwirecki by May 3rd, 2019. Only proposals received by 5:00 p.m. EST on May 24th will be considered.

OAH will confirm receipt of submissions. If there are any issues (e.g., with attachments working correctly), the consultant is responsible for resolving these issues with an alternative submission method acceptable to OAH and the NPS.

Selection Criteria

Candidates for principle investigator should hold a Ph.D. with specific areas of research in the themes outlined in the scope of work. Ideal candidates will have done research in corporate/institutional histories and/or the history of the National Park Service and the management of National Park units.

Proposals will be evaluated for selection based on the project narrative; and the experience and qualifications of the historian.

Terms and Conditions
  1. OAH reserves the right to reject any and all proposals, and to waive minor irregularities in any proposal.
  2. OAH reserves the right to request clarification of information submitted, and to request additional information from any consultant.
  3. OAH and NPS will not be responsible for any costs incurred by consultants in preparing, submitting, or presenting its response to this RFP.
  4. All electronic documents produced through this project must fully comply with Section 508 accessibility standards (https://www.section508.gov/content/build/create-accessible-documents)
  5. Any and all rights to work produced through this project will be vested in the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, including any copyrights.

Respondents are invited to submit written questions requesting clarifications or explanations of the information contained in this RFP. Please direct all proposal or project-related questions to Paul J. Zwirecki, Public History Manager at the OAH, pzwirecki@oah.org.

Posted: May 9, 2019
Tagged: OAH/NPS RFPs, NPS Collaboration